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Group Warns: Coal Plant Hearing Wednesday Could Open Door to More Polluting Coal Plants
Executive order can protect public health, create clean energy jobs by enforcing tough standards on coal plants
LANSING – Clean Energy Now warned that a public hearing scheduled to begin today on the possible construction of a coal plant in Rogers City is a wake-up call that Michigan must act quickly to stop the rush to build outdated dirty coal plants and enforce tough air quality standards to protect people and the economy.
Clean Energy Now called on Governor Jennifer Granholm to take a stand against the rush to build coal plants in Michigan by signing an executive order to prevent coal plants from being built until the state has adopted measures that will protect the public health and stop carbon dioxide pollution. The call comes at a crucial time, with Michigan facing the possible construction of up to eight new coal plants.
"Rogers City is the line in the sand – we either take action now to slow the rush to coal or risk opening the door to more outdated 1950s-era coal plants that put our health, our economy and our quality of life at risk," Sierra Club Executive Director Anne Woiwode said. "Governor Granholm must take action to protect the public before the state constructs any more coal-plants that will leave us stuck with harmful, polluting technology from the 1950s. Michigan should be trailblazing into the future by investing our scarce resources on renewable energy, not more dirty coal. Coal is a step backwards into the energy dark ages, and that's why we need to act now."
The Department of Environmental Quality has announced that it will hold public hearings in Rogers City on Wednesday regarding a proposal to build a coal plant in that community. Altogether, Michigan faces up to eight coal plant projects, including the one proposed for Rogers City. Other potential projects are located in: Holland, Lansing, Bay City, Marquette, Alma, Filer Twp. and Midland. You can find out more information about these proposals online at www.progrogressmichigan.org/cleanenergynow.
Clean Energy Now called on the Governor to use her executive power requiring that public health and pollution protections be put in place before more coal plants are built. Citizens are invited to join the call by signing a petition at www.micleanenergynow.com.
"Instead of rushing toward more coal plants that worsen carbon dioxide pollution and global warming, we should put in place real measures to protect the public, create clean energy jobs and crack down on outdated coal plants," said Janea Little, Midland Resident. "The governor's executive order can help Michigan fight global warming. We need more accountability and more protections so we do not pass this problem off onto future generations. We must take a stand now."
Each year in the U.S., pollution from coal-fired power plants cause 24,000 premature deaths, 38,000 nonfatal heart attacks, and 603,000 asthma attacks. What's more, carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants is one of the biggest contributors to global warming in the United States, producing almost 40 percent of the nation's global warming pollution.
"Pollution from coal plants puts the public's health at risk and is harming our Great Lakes," said Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. "We can't afford more of the same outdated, dirty coal plants; it's time for Michigan to turn in the direction of clean, renewable energy. That's why we're calling on the governor to use her executive power to stop the coal rush before it's too late."
In 2007, with the support of Governor Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment denied air permits for two coal-fired power plants on the basis of excessive global warming CO2 emissions and related health impacts. Governor Sebelius then vetoed several legislative attempts to override the state agency's decision. This precedent-setting action to crackdown on CO2 pollution was a first and comes after more than 60 other coal plants have been turned down or halted across country.
Economic studies have also indicated that investing in energy efficiency and alternative energy production would create twice the amount of Michigan jobs as building more coal plants will. According to studies by the Renewable Energy Policy Project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy say that Michigan could create 46,000 new jobs by investing in renewable energy and efficiency. The Union of Concerned Scientists says renewable energy can generate 2.5 times more jobs than coal plants.
"We need jobs here, and there are more jobs in renewable energy than there are in more coal," said Dick "Cat Fish" Kieliszewski, a Rogers City resident. "We in Rogers City need to take a second look at renewable energy and how many more jobs we can get before going forward with this coal plant."
"The citizens of Rogers City join those across Michigan in calling for Gov. Granholm to help us slow the rush to coal," Rogers City resident Jean Veselnak said. "The citizens of our community want more investment in clean, renewable energy that can create jobs and protect our quality of life. Coal is a step backwards that will harm our health and our economy. Before we rush headlong and build more coal plants, we must have measures in place that will put the public good ahead of Big Coal profits."